Crime

Bellingham Police seize nearly $14K of illegal drug ‘spice’ from stores, manufacturer

Police say they have confiscated nearly $14,000 worth of the synthetic drug “spice” from two Bellingham stores and a location near Ferndale where the illegal drug likely was manufactured.

Over six weeks, the Bellingham Police Department and the Whatcom County Prosecutor’s Office investigated sales of spice throughout Whatcom County, which led police to serve search warrants at the Cigarette Shop, 1422 N. Forest St., and Intercontinental Foods, 4564 Meridian St., on May 14.

Officers collected evidence at the two stores that led them to a suite in a business park outside of Ferndale, where they believe the spice seized at the two stores had been manufactured.

In all, the officers confiscated 3.36 pounds of spice, hundreds of empty containers, lids, labels, and other items related to making the drug, police said. The street value of the spice seized from all three locations was estimated to be $13,737.

The drug is made by spraying different herbs such as spearmint, motherwort or strawberry leaves with synthetic cannabinoids, and/or unknown chemicals, according to police. When smoked, it can cause rapid heart rate, vomiting, agitation, confusion and hallucinations, Bellingham police said.

Spice is sometimes marketed as “Aroma-therapy” and is packaged with names such as K2, Storm, Superstorm, Nitro, Mr. Badass and Woozy Willie, police said. It sells for about half the cost of a similar amount of marijuana, which police said might explain its popularity with young people.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, spice is popular with teenagers and is second to marijuana in popularity of illegal drugs used by high school seniors.

Charges could be filed against the people involved after police finish investigating the case. Evidence is still being analyzed at the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab.

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